CUPE 1816 members on rotating legal job actions against Pacific Blue Cross found themselves locked out this morning, the result of a company policy announced as the Union held a rally outside the benefit provider’s offices last week.

In an e-mail to employees on June 30, PBC stated that future withdrawals of labour by the Union would result in CUPE 1816 members being prevented from returning to work until the week after the job action.

“It is absolutely shameful that this employer is not only trying to roll back retiree benefits for these workers but is essentially punishing them for trying to get a fair deal,” said CUPE BC President Paul Faoro, who visited CUPE 1816 members on the picket line this morning.

“On top of denying them sick leave and no longer collecting their union dues, locking them out just seems beyond the pale. This is obviously a form of retaliation for the Union’s job action, and no one should be fooled by it.”

According to the BC Labour Code, a “lockout” is defined as any suspension of work by an employer aimed at compelling workers to agree to employer conditions of work.

CUPE 1816 President Beth Miller said that the Union is not prepared to return to work under the terms and conditions defined by the Employer.

“The Union will not have its strategy dictated by the Employer,” said Miller. “If the Employer chooses to lock out our members, we will picket the Employer’s places of business.”